Treatment for HIV/AIDS

There is neither a cure for AIDS, nor a vaccine for HIV. The primary goal of treatment is to strengthen the immune system and reduce the viral load for as long as possible by inhibiting viral replication. This is done with powerful combination antiretroviral therapy, the mainstay of AIDS treatment. When strictly adhered to, antiretroviral therapy helps to maintain the balance of power between HIV and the immune system, helping to prevent disease.

Another important goal of therapy is to treat AIDS-related cancers and opportunistic infections that develop. Generally, if a patient develops a severe opportunistic infection, treatment for the infection takes priority over antiretroviral therapy, especially if the antibiotic interacts with the antiretroviral medication.

It is also important to help patients maintain the best possible quality of life. This may involve pain management, counseling, and providing assistance to help patients comply with rigid and demanding medication schedules.

Opportunistic Infections and AIDS-Related Cancers

There are two general types of treatment for opportunistic infections and AIDS-related cancers, and both work best in combination with antiretroviral therapy. Treatment may include the following:

  • Antibiotics for HIV-related infections
  • Chemotherapy for HIV-associated cancers

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Nov 2007

Last Modified: 12 Aug 2015